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Copy of lesson before dying symbols

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Alexa Morneault

on 18 January 2015

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Transcript of Copy of lesson before dying symbols

Lesson before dying symbols
Ice cream
The ice cream symbolizes human desires. The ice cream shows how Jefferson is not a hog, he is a human because he has the desires that mindless animals, such as hogs, do not have. "'Do you like fruit, Jefferson?'...'i want me a whole gallon of ice cream!'"(Gaines 173) When Grant asks if Jefferson want ice cream he is showing us even more that Jefferson is a human. "My last supper. A whole gallon of ice cream."(Gaines 173) In this quote Jefferson is realizing that he is going to die and is starting to know that he is going to the chair like a man and only one man, Mr. Wiggins, can help him change the one thing he wants to change himself.
The radio represents the connection to the outside world and the human desire to have company. In the beginning of the book, Jefferson is bitter and filled with hatred. He pushes everyone away by isolating himself. As he listens to the radio more and more, he starts to reconnect with the people surrounding him such as Grant and Miss Emma. “That radio is there to help him not think about death…That radio makes it less painful…only thing that keeps him from thinking he is not a hog is that radio” (Gaines 182-183). This shows that Jefferson also is aware of the outside world even though he is ignoring Reverend Ambrose, Tante Lou, and Miss Emma. Also as he plays it all the time, he finds that the self-isolation is being broken by the need of comfort in music. “Jefferson had not turned the radio off since Paul brought it to him on Friday evening...the prisoners wished he would play it louder...he [Jefferson] searching, day and night, for stronger stations” (Gaines 178). This quote shows that the radio brought him out of his isolation by listening to it. All day and all night the radio was on, which meant that he wanted to connect to the outside world. He also found the comfort of music to sheter him the pain.
Jefferson's Radio
Jefferson's journal symbolizes eduction. It showed that Jefferson was educated. "im sory i cry mr wigin...an make me think im sombody"(Gaines 235) The journal express how he felt about each person that changed his life, his nannan Miss Emma,Grant, apologizing to Vivian, Tante
Lou, the sheriff, and many more people shows how Jefferson is a human not a hog.This symbol also represents how Jefferson is returning to how he was before. It shows how he is now accepting Grant, the idea of being a man, and dying like a man to become free. "good by mr wigin...he can bring you this sincely jefferson"(Gaines 237) This qoute is telling us that Jefferson is know showing he is a brave, strong man. He will go to the chair strong.
The chair represents the violence and fear in a racist society. “Then Melvina saw it, a high-backed wooden chair with leather straps, and it took all her strength, she said later, to remain on her feet” (Gaines 239). This quote shows that some people were also very fearful at the sight of the chair as well. As the truck with the chair drove through town and the plantation, everyone, no matter the race, knew what it contained. Melvina's strength wanes as she catches sight of the electric chair. "A woman saying that she had seen it, and it looked gruesome. A man said it did look gruesome, and that's why they call it Gruesome Gerty. The man told the woman that whoever sat in Gruesome Gerty's lap when she was hot never sat down again...The white man told Fee he had better watch himself, or maybe they would have to bring Gerty back for him to sit in her lap. Another man laughed nervously" (Gaines 240-241). This explains how everyone feels about the electric chair. Even though the white man jokes, he is nervous because he does not want to be too rude and shameful. This shows the fear of not only the chair but racism as many feel sick, not just black.
Gruesome Gerty
Butterfly on bullgrass
The yellow butterfly on bull grass symbolizes Jefferson. "what had brought it there?... so why did it land on a hill of bullgrass that offered it nothing?"(Gaines 255)The butterfly had so many different places to go, yet the one place it choose was the bull grass right next to Grant. It shows how Jefferson made decisions that allowed Grant to come into his life. Grant is the bull grass, stable and unmoving.The people that need him find and encourage him to help them in their time of need as Grant did to Jefferson. The butterfly opens its wing more than once symbolizing that Jefferson is trying to open his wings by depending on Grant, the bull grass. When the butterfly flies away, it is showing us that Jefferson died by opening his wings and flying into heaven like a man of bravery and dignity. "Yes, I told myself.It is finally over."(Gaines 256)
yellow butterfly on bullgrass
Church and Religion
The Church symbolizes hope for a changing society. Reverend Ambrose, Tante Lou, and Miss Emma believe that God is the only way the racism will stop. God is the only way that comfort is brought. Without God, one is lost. This is what they believe. “ ‘God,’ the minister said. ‘He ain’t got but five more Fridays and a half. He [Jefferson] needs God in that cell, and not that sin box [the radio]’ ” (Gaines 181). This shows how Reverend Ambrose believes that only God will help Jefferson become a man and nothing Grant ever does will. He believes that falling before God will give him dignity. " 'You pray, Mr. Wiggins?' 'No, Jefferson, I don't...But then I'm lost, Jefferson...At this moment I don't believe in anything. Like your nannan does, like Reverend Ambrose does, and like I want you to believe. I want you to believe so that one day maybe I
will.' " (Gaines 221-222). This shows that although Grant does not pray, he still believes in God, yet he finds himself wandering to find something, something that only a person who prays and truly believes has. If Jefferson believes then he will find solace in the loneliness and hopelessness in God. Through God, he will have the strength to walk to that chair and die with dignity.
Plantation Church
BY: Alexa Morneault & Molly Eaton
Jeffersons diary
Jeffersons "last supper."
Full transcript